When buying your services, do prospective clients view you as a vendor, a preferred provider or a Strategic Partner? Vendors pitch their capabilities. Preferred providers’ position against competition. Third Level Providers build a strategic partnership with clients.
Most service providers like to think of themselves as Strategic Partners, however only 5% actually achieve that status in the eyes of their clients. These elite service providers have the biggest and most profitable clients. They rarely compete on price, and they do well in good and bad markets.
What do these elite providers do differently than the rest of us to win new clients and retain the ones they have? They engage clients at a deeper personal and professional level, a Third-Level that leads to greater success and career satisfaction and less price competition.
From the client’s perspective, top competitors pretty much look the same. On the other hand, clients feel that their situation, project, people, preferences, and process are unique. Most professionals who sell services try to force clients to recognize and value increasingly nuanced differences in their capabilities (I call this “vendor differentiation”).
Strategic Partners create client preference and loyalty by finding and aligning to what is unique about the client, the project, client preferences, and process (I call this “client differentiation”), and then marshaling the resources of their company to implement a completely unique solution that helps their client win.